Several congested pockets in the city are virtually sitting over mini-volcanoes as around 600 small factories and warehouses operate without requisite clearances from the West Bengal fire services department, as per a recent fire safety audit report.
What is even more alarming is that most of these factories and warehouses are located in extremely congested pockets in the city like Tangra, Rajabazar, Khidirpur, Tiljala and Topsia areas, where the task of extinguishing any major fire is a herculean task considering the extremely narrow approach- ways for the fire tenders.
According to the state Fire Services Department Minister Sujit Basu, the fire safety audit was conducted on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s instructions after a number of fire incidents at factories and warehouses in the congested areas were reported.
The report also reveals that besides running without requisite clearance from the state fire services department, the minimum fire safety norms are not followed in such 600 odd factories and warehouses. “Many of the workers employed with such factories and warehouses stay within the factory premises where they cook food without maintaining the minimum safety norms. This is a dangerous syndrome considering that highly inflammable articles are often stocked there. Most of these factories and warehouses do not even have proper electrical wiring systems,” said a state fire services department official who refused to be named.
Admitting such factories running without proper fire safety clearance, Sujit Basu said the state government wants to regularise the system but not at the cost of closing down their businesses. “We will send notices to the owners of such factories and warehouses to upgrade their fire safety systems. It has also been decided that joint workshops by the state fire services department, state police and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation will be conducted to sensitize them on such issues,” Basu said.
It is learnt that there are around 450 pockets in the city where the approach-ways are narrow and congested posing problems for the fire tenders to reach the source of fire. Additional deep tube-wells are being set up in such pockets to ensure proper water supply for the fire tenders in case of fire.